Apple has quietly rolled out its iBeacon specification as it starts to certify devices that carry the Bluetooth LE standard.
Under their MFI program, manufacturers can now request that Apple permit them to attach the iBeacon name to their devices so long as they meet certain criteria.
The specifications are available after signing an NDA. Applying to the program in order to register to carry the iBeacon name, we’re told, is free.
While we haven’t seen the specification (and wouldn’t be able to say anything if we had!) we’re told that there are no surprises: it conforms to what you’d generally expect of any device that broadcasts a Bluetooth LE signal.
iBeacon Means, Mostly, Trademark Control
The move means that the iBeacon trademark, which has ended up being applied by the media to a whole slew of devices that act as beacons, will now be used with a bit more control from Cupertino.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, beacons that carry the iBeacon name are conforming to two things:
- They broadcast Bluetooth LE ‘signals’ in a way that conforms to the Apple standard for what those signals should contain
- They have use of the iBeacon trademark
But there’s no particular restriction in place which makes an iBeacon incompatible with Android or other phones. So while a beacon might carry the iBeacon name, this simple means that it has access to the trademark and that it has been configured to work well with Apple devices.
The iBeacon trademark filing by Apple covers a wider range of uses and scenarios including mobile payments, advertising, retail services, trade shows and other scenarios.
At BEEKn, we group the software, APIs, on-device services, SDKs and APIs as part of the larger meaning of the term iBeacon. The device that you put on the wall (or the fact that your phone can be a beacon) are just one part of the larger requirements for building an ‘iBeacon experience’.
So while for now the trademark iBeacon is going to be applied to specific devices that have been certified under the Apple MFI program, we see it being used more broadly as Apple continues to enhance what’s possible in proximity-based experiences.
With the specification now released for companies who have signed the NDA and who have applied to use the iBeacon trademark on their devices, we at least know that there’s no surprise in how they define the use of the Bluetooth LE standard – and that the latest Apple brand will be affixed soon to a beacon near you.